House prices back on the rise as mortgage approvals increase
Rising numbers of mortgage approvals pushed up house prices in the final quarter of last year.
According to the most recent Halifax House Price Index, prices in January 2015 were 8.5% above where they stood in January the previous year. This represents a slight acceleration in annual house price growth, up from 7.8% in December 2014.
Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis in part attributes this to a higher number of mortgage approvals.
"This bounce-back in house price growth in January coincides with reports of the first rise in mortgage approvals for six months in December," he says.
House price growth
"These improvements may indicate that the recent declines in mortgage rates, the reform of stamp duty and the first increases in real earnings for several years are providing a modest boost to the market."
However, he added that it is too early to draw conclusions, especially given that January figures tend to be more volatile owing to lower volumes of activity.
In December of last year, Halifax reported that more people thought 2015 would be a better time to buy a house than to sell one, coinciding with its own predictions of a 3 to 5% easing of house price growth over the year.
Rob Weaver, director of investments at property crowdfunder Property Partner, says the stage is set for healthy growth in prices in 2015, even if it doesn't quite match the heat of 2014.
"Economic conditions at home remain stable, employment is up, interest rates are low and the cost of living has fallen sharply.
"The impact of the simplified stamp duty regime is being felt too, and house prices are no longer being distorted by the old thresholds."
This article was written for our sister website Money Observer
A hugely unpopular tax paid on property and share purchases. Stamp duty on property is levied at 1% for purchases over £125,000 (£250,000 for first-time buyers) which then moves up at a tiered rate. For property between £125k and £250k you pay 1%, then 3% from £250k up to £500k and then 4% from £500k to £1m and then 5% for properties over £1m. But unlike income tax, which is “tiered” and different rates kick in at different levels, stamp duty is a “slab” tax where you pay the rate on the whole purchase price of the property. On shares, stamp duty is charged at a flat rate of 0.5% on all share purchases. Figures correct as of May 2011.